Is it for me? Can I actually do this?
Fear not. This isn’t rocket science. There are some common technical “must-haves” and other considerations, but most importantly: you’re already a great teacher! Teaching online requires certain rules of etiquette and adaptations, but those who have made the leap find that it’s really quite easy and the benefits can be extraordinary. Here are some things to consider, from basic technical issues to your presence in the digital world:
Do you have adequate high speed Internet?
Kind of an obvious practical one here, but live videochat relies on a good connection (test here) If you’re not “up to speed” with your Internet, it’s not an insurmountable issue.
Consider this: if it’s available in your area and investing in better Internet service is the barrier between you and even one student, the math should answer the question. Another $30 or $40 per month for better Internet service means a student paying you $30 or $40 per week? Sounds like a deal to me. Chances are though, as long as you have broadband you’re probably in pretty good shape already.
Have you used your webcam for Skyping or other video chat applications?
This is your fundamental communication tool--how you and your student see and hear one another. The basic webcam setup for teaching music lessons is really quite accessible. Using a relatively new laptop with a built in webcam, you can deliver music lessons online. Here’s a video where I describe the simple tools and setup for live online music lessons.
Are you active online?
If you’re at home in the Internet environment and spend time building your digital presence by curating a website, writing a blog, posting videos to YouTube, posting in forums...you’re well on your way to being a Virtual Teaching Superstar. The experience and knowledge you gain from promoting yourself and creating content has already built your savvy in the virtual world and marketplace.
Not an Internet star? Again, not a deal breaker. If you have all technical basics for online teaching (you’re already a great music teacher!) but don’t have much of a digital presence, you’ll simply need to take the leap and build that presence around your online studio. In future blogs, we’ll talk more about this--how to market yourself and understand your prospective student in the digital world.
Does it really work?
Most definitely. Thousands of teachers are actively conducting “Skype lessons”, and while there is yet to be a definitive study of the results, there’s a ton of anecdotal evidence that online lessons are highly effective. Concert artists like Jeffrey Biegel and music technology guru Hugh Sung are some high profile examples, and you may find that the piano, guitar or voice teacher down the block has a thriving online studio. I’ve considered the actual advantages of online music lessons over physically present lessons before, both from the teacher and student perspective.
It’s a nascent field for sure--and ripe for you to make a difference and make yourself known. It’s also a heck of a lot of fun!
We’ll look at some more questions in future posts, such as:
- How do I find students?
- Where do I find the resources to help me teach online more effectively?